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Trump invokes production law to compel GM to supply ventilators | US news


Donald Trump has bowed to overwhelming pressure and invoked a law that enables him to compel General Motors to mass produce breathing equipment for coronavirus sufferers.

For days the US president has resisted calls to use the Defense Production Act (DPA), claiming “we’re a country not based on nationalsing our business” and even drawing comparisons with the socialist government of Venezuela.

But Trump finally shifted position on Friday as he came under criticism from state governors, Democrats and doctors for playing down a nationwide shortage of ventilators, which enable a person with compromised lungs to keep breathing.

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness. Most who contract it recover but it can be fatal, particularly among older people and those with underlying health problems.

Trump announced he had signed a presidential memorandum directing his health secretary to use “any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators”.

He added: “Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.

“GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”


The decision followed 24 hours of confusion in which Trump initially expressed scepticism about the dire warnings of ventilator shortages, particularly in New York, where medical officials say the situation is desperate.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he told the Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying: ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

The comments provoked a backlash and on Friday morning Trump appeared to shift gear, lambasting GM for allegedly over-promising and over-charging. In tweets littered with capital letters and exclamation marks, he also urged Ford to churn out ventilators.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” he wrote. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B.”

The “Mary B” reference was to GM’s chief executive. Mary Barra, as Trump renewed his grievance with her for closing and selling a factory in a state vital to his re-election campaign.

He added: “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”

The tweet stood in sharp contrast to a message sent in May last year, praising the decision to sell.

The comments came after a New York Times report that the White House had backed away from announcing a major ventilator deal with GM and Ventec Life Systems because the cost was too high.

Trump also tweeted he might “Invoke the ‘P’”, then clarified that he meant the DPA, which grants the president power to compel companies to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security. Small-government conservatives had urged against such a move, suggesting the threat of the law would be leverage enough.

In a separate tweet, Trump said the federal government had bought a large quantity of ventilators from a number of companies, and that details would be announced later on Friday.

Critics say Trump ignored early warnings about the threat of the pandemic and had he acted sooner, mass production of ventilators would now be well under way.

Experts warn that the US is hundreds of thousands of machines short of what it need to treat a sharply rising number of coronavirus patients.

New York, Michigan, Louisiana and Washington state are current hot spots and the total of US cases has surpassed those confirmed in China and Italy. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, by Friday there were about 94,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US and more than 1,400 deaths.

Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator and secretary of state, tweeted: “A month ago, Trump said: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.’ Yesterday, he said: ‘I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.’

“What will it take to get [him’] to listen to experts instead of his own hunches?”





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Americans Sick of President ‘Lies All the Time’



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Saturday celebrated his big Nevada caucus win with supporters in San Antonio, Texas, declaring that the American people are “sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time.”

Multiple media outlets on Saturday evening called the Nevada race for the socialist senator, and he celebrated with supporters in San Antonio:

“I’m delighted to bring you some pretty good news. I think all of you know we won the popular vote in Iowa, we won the New Hamshire primary, and according to three networks and the AP, we have now won the Nevada caucus,” he said as supporters broke out in cheers of “Bernie.”

“No campaign has a grassroots campaign like we do, which is another reason we are going to win this election,” he declared, also proclaiming that he will win the Democrat Primary in Texas and in the general election.

Sanders told supporters that Trump gets “very very upset easily” so “don’t tell him we’re going to beat him in Texas.”

“We are going to win in Texas and across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time,” Sanders said.

“They are sick and tired of a corrupt administration. They are sick and tired of a president who is undermining American democracy, who thinks he is above the law, and who apparently has never read the Constitution in this country,” he continued.

“The American people are sick and tired of a government which is based on greed, corruption, and lies. They want an administration which is based on the principles of justice —  economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice,” he added.

The socialist senator also told his supporters that Trump and his friends “think they are going to win this election”  by dividing people by race, religion, and sexual orientation.

“We are going to win because we are doing exactly the opposite,” he declared.

President Trump reacted to Sanders’ strong showing in Nevada on Saturday, warning him against allowing the Democrat establishment to steal the nomination from him.

“Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates,” he said.

“Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!”:





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Schiff: Trump ‘Guilty’ if Senate Rejects Democrats’ Demand for New Witnesses, Evidence



WASHINGTON, DC — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued on Tuesday that a refusal by the Senate to agree to Democrats’ demand to allow new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial without a vote would deem President Donald Trump guilty regardless of the verdict.

In other words, if the Republican-led Senate does not carry out the impeachment trial the way the Democrats want it to, Trump will be considered guilty even if the upper chamber acquits him. A guilty verdict in the Senate would remove Trump from office.

Schiff told reporters:

If the Senate and the senate leadership … will not allow the calling of witnesses or the presentation of documents, If [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell makes this the first impeachment trial in history without witnesses or documents, it will not prove the president innocent. It will merely prove the Senate guilty of working with the president to obstruct the truth from coming out, so I do think that by structuring the trial this way, it furthers our case that what’s going on here really is a cover-up of evidence to the American people.

While McConnell says his newly unveiled resolution outlining the rules that will govern the Senate trial makes the process fair, Schiff argues otherwise, saying the guidelines “make it impossible to hear a fair trial.”

The Senate, nevertheless, is expected to approve the resolution.

Speaking from the Senate’s floor on Tuesday, McConnell noted that the resolution that lays out the rules for how Senators will carry out the impeachment trial allows for a vote on whether both parties can introduce new evidence and witnesses.

McConnell made it clear that he will not pre-commit to allowing new evidence before hearing the Democrats’ arguments for convicting Trump. Moreover, he acknowledged that no one pushed the House’s hand to rush the impeachment inquiry, noting that they could have waited for more evidence if they thought it necessary.

McConnell stressed that the GOP-led Senate would not do the Democrat-controlled House’s investigation.

Key congressmen have recently threatened to call new witnesses to testify in the House if the Senate does take their deposition. They have also said they are continuing with their impeachment inquiry. Their comments came after House Democrats transmitted the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate, a move that is supposed to end the House’s role in the impeachment process.



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Scalise: People Criticizing Trump for Soleimani Strike Need to Ask Whose Side They’re On



On Saturday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that people who are criticizing President Trump for the Soleimani strike are “going to have to look at a mirror and say, whose side are you on if you can question something that actually makes America safer?”

Scalise said, “Any responsible commander-in-chief would have done the same thing, but President Trump’s the one who did it, and I’m glad that the president had the fortitude to say we’re going to put America first. We’re going to protect America and our allies around the world by doing this. And you know, if somebody wants to criticize him for it, I think they’re going to have to look at a mirror and say, whose side are you on if you can question something that actually makes America safer?”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





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Bass: ‘McConnell Should Recuse Himself’



On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to recuse himself from the Senate’s impeachment trial.

Bass said, “The leader of the Senate has basically said he is in lockstep, and he is going to coordinate with the defendant. And so, if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman of the jury says, well, I’m working with the person that’s being accused of the crime. And so, it’s completely inappropriate. McConnell should recuse himself. … How can a juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett





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Democrats Expect Wide Scale Defections on Impeachment Vote



Democrats are expecting wide-scale defections among their rank and file when Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump come to the floor for a vote next week, the Washington Post reports.

the Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis wrote late Wednesday:

House Democratic leaders are bracing for some defections among a group of moderate Democrats in swing districts who are concerned a vote to impeach President Trump could cost them their seats in November.

Bade and DeBonis quote three senior House Democrat officials saying that there will be at least a half dozen Democrats who join with all Republicans to oppose impeaching President Trump, but a third senior Democrat aide told them there would probably be many more than just a half dozen defections.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.

Generally speaking, if leadership of the majority party is publicly leaking that they expect at least a half-dozen defections a week before the actual vote, the number of defections on said vote is likely to be much higher. It’s remarkable that Democrats are now readily admitting they will lose at least six Democrats on the vote, probably more, but Bade and DeBonis have also confirmed now that Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) will vote against Articles of Impeachment, just as he voted against opening the impeachment inquiry to begin with.

They also say that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) has confirmed he is leaning against voting for Articles of Impeachment–Peterson was the other Democrat to join all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the inquiry vote–but also that Democrat leaders expect that Peterson will join Van Drew and other Democrats in the bipartisan vote against the increasingly partisan impeachment push against Trump.

Bade and DeBonis reported that these frontline Democrats–there are yet no more who have as of yet publicly stated they intend to vote against Articles of Impeachment, but many are privately fretting the forthcoming vote–are having second thoughts about this, now that they have seen polling moving against impeachment.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Predictions about some defections come as a core group of centrists from districts Trump won in 2016 are having second thoughts. While many knew impeachment would never be popular in their GOP-leaning districts, some have been surprised that support hasn’t increased despite negative testimony about Trump from a series of blockbuster hearings last month. Several moderates have privately pined for other options, including a censure vote they know they’re unlikely to get. Others have even considered what one moderate called ‘splitting the baby’: backing one article of impeachment but not the other to try to show independence from the party.

Further complicating matters for Democrats is the fact that the U.S. Senate will not convict President Trump. To do so, the Senate would need 67 votes for conviction on Articles of Impeachment–and there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, all of whom are aligned behind Trump at this stage. What’s more, some Senate Democrats are potentially expected to join the bipartisan opposition to the partisan impeachment push–particularly Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), but also possibly Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Gary Peters (D-MI), or Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)–if it reaches that stage.

Manchin on Wednesday said he was “torn” over impeachment, and he even backed the White House’s push to have former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden be called in to testify in a potential Senate trial should it reach that stage.

While it still seems more likely than not that Articles of Impeachment will pass the House of Representatives next week, if enough of these vulnerable Democrats band together against them on the floor, they could avoid a messy Senate trial that would undoubtedly acquit Trump, giving him a massive boost going into his 2020 re-election campaign. Assuming Peterson does end up voting no, as Van Drew has confirmed he will, Democrats could only afford to lose a total of 17 more of their members on the floor and still pass impeachment.

There are four vacancies in the House, and former GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan–who left the party over this–is expected to join the Democrats in the vote for impeachment, so that means Democrats would need 216 votes for impeachment to pass. As such, 19 total votes from Democrats against Articles of Impeachment–there is already at least one, probably two, with many more expected–could sink the vote.

There are 31 districts that Democrats currently represent that President Trump won in 2016, and another 20 or so that are considered battlegrounds with vulnerable incumbents.

Democrat leadership, meanwhile, does not intend to ensure its passage–and will not whip the votes for impeachment on the floor.

“In fact, Democratic leaders have said they don’t intend to whip the impeachment vote, allowing each member to make his or her own personal choice on such a historic roll call that many see as a legacy-defining issue,” Bade and DeBonis wrote before quoting Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), a deputy whip in House Democrat leadership, as confirming the plan by Democrat leaders to not whip the vote.



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John Kerry endorses Joe Biden in 2020 Democratic presidential race – live | US news


Users of Bloomberg terminals are funnelled to the Bloomberg 2020 campaign website merely by writing: MIKE. …

A Bloomberg spokesperson said the ‘MIKE’ function had been in place since at least 1997, when it was used to promote Mr Bloomberg’s autobiography Bloomberg by Bloomberg. Two decades later it advertised his book Climate of Hope. The website it currently links to has for years promoted Mr Bloomberg’s personal and political projects before being converted to his campaign site.

The website that users are directed to presents a slickly-produced video narrating Mr Bloomberg’s journey from ‘a middle-class kid who had to work his way through college’ to a billionaire businessman and politician.

It asks readers to register their details to join the campaign team, and contains news of policy announcements — as well as an online shop including $22 ‘I like Mike Bloomberg’ T-shirts.



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Impeachment inquiry: Trump’s actions constitute bribery, says witness – live | US news


Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest on Tuesday with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who has become a key figure in the impeachment inquiry. He then traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday seeking to meet with other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by Republicans, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, according to people familiar with the effort.

The former prosecutors, who have faced allegations of corruption, all played some role in promoting claims about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a former United States ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in 2016.



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Trump loses appeal to stop Deutsche Bank turning over financial records – live | US news














Trump announces G7 summit will be held at Camp David





Trump calls Schiff ‘deranged human being’









Updated









Trump says he supports Iran protesters (after saying he didn’t)









Trump loses appeal in Deutsche Bank case













Trump says he does not support Iran protesters

Updated





Trump and Macron clash over returning ISIS fighters





Steyer qualifies for December debate





House intelligence committee’s impeachment report expected today





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NATO and EU Army Cannot Coexist



Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has warned that NATO and a future EU army cannot coexist.

Mr Farage said during a campaign event in Buckley, Wales, on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to choose the UK’s place inside or out the European Defence Union. He said that if the nation commits to the proto-EU army post-Brexit, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could collapse.

“NATO and a European Defence Union cannot coexist equally,” Mr Farage said in comments reported by POLITICO.

He continued: “No man effectively can serve both. We’ve got a decision to make.”

Highlighting the importance of British military might to Europe, the Brexit Party leader said: “If we leave the European Defence Union, it becomes valueless. Because without [the UK], it doesn’t have the muscle that it needs.”

“But if we stay, don’t be surprised if NATO falls to pieces and we leave the security and protection that America had for us, thank God, twice in the last century,” he added.

Mr Farage’s comments come as President of the United States of America Donald J Trump is in the United Kingdom for a three-day visit to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO. During his trip, President Trump is meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The President had criticised the commitment of NATO members when in 2015, just five of the then-28-member union had hit the two per cent GDP minimum spending on defence (those countries being the U.S., UK, Greece, Poland, and Estonia). The USA funds around 70 per cent of NATO, spending 3.4 per cent of its GDP on defence.

In the subsequent years and with the support of Secretary-General Stoltenberg, more European countries have heeded the criticisms of President Trump and have recommitted to the spending target. Even Germany, which was set to fail to meet its own reduced spending target, recently committed to increased spending. Expanded to 29 countries, seven nations are now hitting their two per cent target.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron, who along with Germany is a great proponent of an EU army, claimed last month that NATO was suffering a “brain death”. He alleged America was “turning its back on us [Europe]” and questioned the U.S.’s “commitment” to the defence union and its members.

Macron’s comments proved unpopular with his European allies, with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel saying with an uncharacteristic bluntness that the Frenchman had used “drastic words” and “NATO remains a cornerstone of our security.” The former German defence minister and the next president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also defended NATO as the “protective shield of freedom”.

President Trump started his NATO visit Tuesday by addressing Macron’s remarks, calling them “very insulting” and remarking that France had many problems of its own, stating: “Nobody needs NATO more than France.”

While the Germans and the French leadership may disagree fundamentally on the importance of NATO, they, along with Brussels, remain the cornerstone of support for an EU army, which Mr Farage fears will over-extend its reach and threaten the 70-year-old transatlantic alliance.

Mr Macron had said in November 2018 that the EU needs its own army to “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia, and even the United States of America”. The call for a “real, true European army” was backed by Chancellor Merkel, the European Commission, and senior European Parliament politician Guy Verhofstadt.

Mr Farage warned in July that as president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, Mrs von der Leyen would advance plans for a European army, saying: “She’s a fanatic for building a European army, but she’s not alone. When it’s completed, NATO will cease to exist or have any relevance in Europe at all.”

In 2017, EU member states signed up to the Permanent Structured Cooperation process, or PESCO — a key element of the bloc’s Defence Union plans formulated by the outgoing European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who had said the EU needs an army by 2025.

Mr Farage told voters in Wales on Monday that is EU is “not just talking about building their European Defence Union; they are talking about flexing their muscles around the world”.

“I find that in itself very alarming talk. What is clear, what is absolutely clear, is they want NATO out of Europe. That’s what the politicians in Brussels want,” he continued.

“I would say that in a world where there are some major serious threats, we need that military relationship with America today as much as we have ever needed it,” Mr Farage added.





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